"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, dancing, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace. "(32) When Edna's one chance for change; her only hope, Robert, deserts her, she realizes that her dreams are unachievable. It is this grim acceptance that steals our heroine's last shard of optimism from her.
They were not to question their husbands and were always expected to do as they were told. Thus, women of this time were not free. In this novel, it is the sea that makes Edna free. In the sea she loses all restraints and all reservations when she finally goes for a swim later in the novel. Being free in the sea and going for a swim is liberating to her, just like seeking out another man since she isn’t happy in her current marriage.
Her final act of independence required her to end her life. She shed the final constriction on her life when she stripped herself alone on the beach. She frees herself from social conventionalism and at last opens herself up to do something totally for her own reasons and rules. Throughout the novel, as Edna sheds herself of the clothing and possessions that surround her, she becomes more liberated, free, her own woman. The clothing represents the society that confines her and the independence that stripping the clothing gives her enlightens her soul.
Her decision to die in the ocean only shows how liberated she felt in her own introverted world. Art, birds, and the ocean are only a few of many symbols that can be found in The Awakening. Art represents freedom and failure, birds symbolize Edna herself, and the ocean represents escape, freedom, and confidence. Kate Chopin uses these symbols to help the reader get a better understanding of the story and figure out the more intricate meanings of her words. Works Cited Chopin, Kate, and Barbara H. Solomon.
Edna begins to explore how to discover freedom at the beach; the beach represents endless freedom, no boundaries and no one in the way. Edna takes a stride toward gaining her freedom, “As she swam she seemed to be reaching out for the unlimited in which to lose herself” (Chopin 31). Edna swam a little too far out, but she still was seeing how much freedom was right in front of her. Wyatt states, “As she swims out, the voices of her children come to pull at her like little “antagonists,” and there are others on shore who would also hold her down: Robert, Adele, Arobin, and Leonce.” Wyatt explains how the people of Edna’s life will hold her down and keep her from reaching her goal of freedom, but overtime Edna does gain freedom and in the end, it seems like too much freedom. Gaining all the freedom Edna realized that she was not ready like she thought she was; she took strides that were too big at one time, which pushed Edna to think of
She realizes why she is unhappy and looks to the sea for commiseration and answers, but finds none. Edna can only continue her love affair with the ocean and appreciate her newly-discovered soulmate.
In each awakening she learned a new part of who she truly was. When she learned to swim she started her enlightenment, she realized she could do things by herself and be independent. In her true love awakening she learned that she did not really love her husband, Robert showed her that. Through her gender awakening she discovered that you do not have to be either a married house wife or an old woman who is alone. From her social awakening she gained the ability to have friends and explore the walls beyond her own house.
It is the ultimate lover; in its murky depths she finds solace, solitude, a sensual touch and the calming antidote to her mental anguish. The sea is where Edna can retreat from the world she knows into the world that she is discovering as she awakens to the contours of her own soul. The sea is also terrifying, overwhelming and confining and Edna must learn to conquer her fears of it. Finally, lulled by the silent rhythms of the sea, Edna is at last able to hear her own interior monologue and take control of her life. Chopin, like Mark Twain with his classic American novel, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, finds in the sea – or the river, in Twain’s case – a perfect stand-in for her protagonist’s desires and fears.
. .” and that it “should be labelled poison’ (Toth 335)” (Sprinkle 3). Despite its harsh criticism surrounding its publishing, today The Awakening is a depiction of a woman’s desire for independence. Chopin utilizes the symbolism of the sea to illustrate Edna’s unconventional methods of awakening her true self, who is lying dormant under society’s expectations. The sea provides Edna with a sense of empowerment.
In her eyes, “the voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation,” (Chopin 33). Edna felt connected to the water; in it, she reached self-actualization and encountered a side of her no one else knew existed...even herself. It was only once its potent seductions drew her in did Edna begin to see and feel the alterations swelling inside her. The true turning point and catalyst in her awakening was her ability to swim on her own. While Edna did attempt to swim before, she was never truly free- she depended on